[[This is the Prologue to an English translation of BakApple's French Rhythm Thief fanfic, Quatorze Juillet. I'm unable to include a link here, but I highly suggest you check out BakApple's original fic as the writing will be better than my mediocre translation skills. BakApple is kindly doing the same for my Rhythm Thief AU fic, Deja Vergier but in French. Even if you are not a French reader, please consider leaving comments on the original fic. It shouldn't be hard to find on the Rhythm Thief archive.
Disclaimer: I do not own Rhythm Thief, or the oriignal content to Quatorze Juillet.
Spoilers: For Rhythm Thief.
Set: After The Emperor's Treasure.]]
The rain fell, thick and flowing. Sewers struggled to evacuate the rivers that coursed through the city. A chrysanthemum flower floated on the water's surface. It came to rest against the foot of a person standing on the edge of the river. The person stooped and picked up the poor lost flower. She raised it to her lips and inhaled its scent; she let out a sigh.
The city was sleeping. The few lights of the French capital that remained were lit in the distance. Against this gloomy backdrop, the person— a girl— was waiting. Her clothes stuck to her skin, but she didn't care; this was the last of her concerns. She had no umbrella. She hadn't thought to bring one.
She watched a ground floor apartment on a street corner. A room in the apartment was lit by a lamp. Shadows loomed within.
Finally, the light went out. She heard the door creak open, and saw a shadow slip out of the building.
She removed a piece of paper from her pocket and checked the address written on it. Everything matched.
The thin sheet disintegrated in the rain in her hands.
She did not care.
She had found him.
Finally. It was about to begin.
"A little rain won't stop us. Right, Fondue?"
The white canine wearing a red cape barked in agreement to his master. This was a young man of nineteen, whose eyes shone with excitement at the thought of what he was going to do. He zipped up his gray jacket and put up his hood before going out in the rain, closely followed by his dog.
Venturing into the total darkness didn't bother them. They knew which way to go, with or without light.
They dashed through the maze of streets, sliding across the pavement before arriving in front of a huge gate. The mansion that loomed before them stood out from the darkness of the night. Some of the lights had been left on. The staff were probably still working, despite the late hour.
The young man smiled. This was the place.
It was very late indeed. The girl had stopped counting the hours since the moon had risen. She hadn't even changed out of her day clothes yet. She waited as the clock ticked away, hoping weariness would claim her soon. To pass the time, she read novels from Rabelais to those of Albert Camus. Then, she grabbed her bag and her musical scores and crept to the soundproof cabinet at the other end the hall.
She could hear the rain hitting the window panes. She plucked a string on her violin, reassured by the resounding note.
She played for a long time. An hour, maybe two, or more. Her right arm became heavier, and she stopped rubbing the bow against the strings. Her fingers on her left hand were numb and could no longer keep up.
Maybe I should go to sleep now, she mused, although the desire was still not there.
Carefully, she put her instrument in its case. She shut the case and re-crossed the hall in complete silence, although she was the only one to sleep in one of the rooms on this side of the mansion.
She grabbed the door handle and was surprised to find that the metal was not as cold as it should be. It was as if someone had waited for a long time, his hand resting on the handle. When she was about to open the door, she heard a familiar voice whisper in her ear:
"I hesitated to enter. Then I told myself it was rude to keep a lady waiting."
She turned, shocked and ecstatic both at once. She let go of the handle, put down her violin case, and threw her arms around the newcomer's neck. Tears of joy ran down her cheeks.
"I'm so happy to see you, Raphael!"
There was a jealous yelp.
The girl released her friend and greeted the dog, stroking his head.
"You too, Fondue! I've missed you so much! "
The canine snorted, scattering raindrops in the hallway. He let her cuddle him and she grinned in delight.
The girl invited her friends inside her room. Raphael hesitated for a moment, and explained that they had just gotten out of the rain.
"We don't want to make your room dirty," he said uneasily. "The cleaners won't like that... "
The girl shook her head, her blonde hair waving, and said she cleaned her own room, so there was no problem.
She asked her friends to sit, and went to grab two towels. She handed one to the young man that he used to dry his hair while she took care of his furry friend. The latter was happy to be dry again.
An uncomfortable silence settled over them, stifling as a drape. Sitting on her bed, the girl didn't dare look at her friend. The latter, sitting at her desk, would not speak. They had so much to say, but neither knew how to start. How long had they been apart? Nearly a year, surely. And so many things had happened during those twelve months. The girl decided to speak, but Raphael interrupted her.
"I wanted to apologize for not… giving you this sooner."
He approached her and handed her a wrapped package, a gift. She grabbed it and quivered when their fingers met. His skin was so warm... She wanted to thank him, but all she could articulate was a mush of words. Her face reddened in shame.
Gently, she unwrapped her gift, and revealed a little box. She smiled at her friend and asked wryly if he had stolen it. In mock-indignation, he replied that he didn't just visit museums. Besides, the things in museum were old and worthless.
"And you deserve better than that," he added, smiling.
The cheeks of the young blonde heated up. She couldn't think of an answer, so she opened the box. Her eyes widened. The box contained a small jewel, a necklace. She took it out gently. She couldn't believe it. It was a pendant in the shape of the crescent moon on which rested a violin. The chain that held it and the jewel itself was silver.
"But... how much did it cost you?" she exclaimed.
He paused and gingerly took the jewel from her hand to tie it around her neck. The brush of his hands on her neck made her shiver. It felt funny to be so close after so long.
He stepped back and ran a hand through his red hair, smiling as always. He admitted that the necklace suited her very well, even better than he expected, and gestured for her to look in the mirror she kept on her desk. She approached her reflection, and found that Raphael was right.
The crescent moon was a bit bigger than a piece of fifty cents. It fell just above the hollow of her chest. Due to its neutral color, she could wear it with any outfit. Of course, she and Raphael knew the significance of the crescent moon and the violin.
She saw Raphael's reflection approaching hers. He came to hug her, wrapping his arms around her neck and whispering in his ear.
"You're beautiful, Marie. "
She smiled. All of her thoughts cleared from her head. Her discomfort disappeared, leaving a pleasant feeling of warmth. She had missed the sensation, but now that he was there, it resurfaced. Her heart was racing, and she knew he could feel it.
Marie turned her face to his. His hazel eyes, hard and soft at the same time, came to meet her clear sparkling blue eyes. She opened her lips; she wanted to tell him what she had kept to herself for long. But he did not give her time to speak. Raphael pressed his lips to hers. This simple first kiss exchanged during this rainy night was the answer to the questions that had troubled them for a year.
It was still raining when he returned.
The girl had been waiting. It was late— maybe four in the morning. She didn't know and she didn't care. But she always watched when he would return home.
He finally arrived. Quietly, he approached his home.
Fondue accompanied the red-haired teenager at a crosswalk as he waited for the light turned green. At this hour, there wasn't much traffic, but he preferred to make sure the coast was clear. Luckily, the wait wasn't long before they could cross. Fondue went running to the other side of the road and sat, holding on for his master. Raphael dragged his feet, enjoying every step he took.
A horn sounded.
A light blinded him.
But he was already too late.